Social Media Stories

Sometime over the last few weeks, an exhaustion and demoralization with social media sunk into me.

The Blog, the Twitter, the Facebook, the Instagram.

All of it.

A long time coming.

I have an urge to destroy it all.

I’ve already come off of Instagram, a feeling akin to an alcoholic quitting drinking. I no longer look at other people’s bodies, trips to Capri, or bearded hikers standing on railroad tracks in Washington State. I have no more desire to like and no more desire to have someone like me.

The blog I created in 2006, “Here in Van Nuys” has opened up some new avenues for me, in people I’ve met, in others who shared my interest in urban exploration, history, photography and the architecture of Van Nuys, the San Fernando Valley and beyond.

But my secret motivation for writing and photographing, to get discovered and enriched, and motivated and respected, and financed and hired, well much of that never happened.

Instead, the tired and poor, the lost and the aimless, those searching for some place to put their hopes in Van Nuys, without having money or vision, those are the ones who glommed on. There was no knock on the door by developers, or architects, or the Mayor. Nobody thought Van Nuys worthier because of my writing, or maybe they did, but it lead, not to a new community, but back to another blog post.

Occasionally, a notable person popped up in email. In 2010, playwright Jon Robin Baitz, sent me a nice message, signing it “Robbie”. We met for coffee, and he said he would stay in touch, and we never spoke again.

There must be a reason why I write and photograph and why I created “Here in Van Nuys”, but to the fast, shallow, clickable, dumbed down virtual world, that answer always ends in clicks and celebrities.

Recent disappointments are small but telling.

  • I photographed a guy and thought they were some of my best photos ever. He put them on his Instagram, with his 9,000 followers and less than 10 people liked my photos.
  • On Linkedin, another website whose purpose is mysterious, a comedian/actor/performer/writer/huckster named Rich R—— connected with me. I never met him before. He said he was looking for projects. I contacted him and he said, “I’m lookin’ at your IMDB dude and I don’t see nothin’ since 2006. I mean people have bad luck, but I’m like what have you done lately?” He later added, “I’m involved in several projects, including one in the low millions, and some other things on Vine, so if I have time I’ll look at yours.” Apparently, he believes INDB is factual and accurate. Just as Instagram is the truth.
  • A friend who lives in Encino told me of a nearby home renting for $8,500 a month. It was just rented by a 19-year-old white punky kid, a “social media influencer” who has two million followers and attained some recent notoriety for forcing his underage girlfriend to have sex with him on camera.

I cite these stories as evidence that human life, and human beings are sucked in by an imaginary world, a make-believe life, that sometimes pays, but also, much more, destroys and devalues.

The longer I walk in the virtual world, the more I feel it as a kind of imposter and identity thief who steals my thoughts, my reality and my existence and plays it out as a funhouse game.

Taking myself off of it, one step at a time, seems the next logical, lifesaving step.

12 thoughts on “Social Media Stories

  1. Andy, I am so sorry I can offer you nothing. And I say that even though you have given me inspiration I cannot imagine. I have followed your blog for the past four years and have always found your posts truly inspiring. Your posts about the decline and death of your Mom brought me to tears. It made me so remember my Mom who died in 2008. Your blog about your family’s Jewish history was incredible. Your post on your father’s wallet brought me to tears. Your love for a community of which I know little, but believe is a critical part of America, was evident in every single post. See, I am 54, and I live in Atlanta. I love LA and I have been 4 times in the last 6 years. I have never been in the Valley but I know the changes it has seen. I can see that your tried valiently to restore the Valley to its former glory with a far different demographic. That is vey much to be applauded. If you leave, let it be known that there is one guy in Atlanta who will be heartbroken. Michael J. McCann


  2. I read with some sadness that you’re questioning the value of your work. Having read and enjoyed it for many years, I can assure you that it will be missed. From my historic Van Nuys office I’ve watched you shoot pictures, and laughed when you described being chased away by the lady who runs Happy Dog. I felt your pain at the passing of your mother, shortly before mine passed also. Many people you will never hear from read your blog and follow your interests. I’d bet all of us share your disgust in the state of the city, and your frustration with the broken promises of every single candidate to improve anything at all. Instead of emulating Paris, Van Nuys is becoming more like skid row. I’m told hundreds of people retire each night to the recreation area from the dam to Victory. At least we still have choices left, and if you feel it’s time for a break you should take it. Thanks for your efforts, which will live on long after we’re gone, if you allow it to.
    Mark, in Van Nuys.


  3. oh andy
    theres a melancholy-ness to your posts that i thoroughly enjoy. im from van nuys and the run down state of the city is disappointing and your delivery of its condition is perfect


  4. Andy,

    I look forward to your posts, and check your feed on Flickr regularly. I’m in no position to offer a job, or even a lead on a job. But I can put your name up on the board at Macleod’s.
    Thinking of Yogi Berra who passed away yesterday. He said, “It ain’t over till it’s over”. While Van Nuys may now appear irreparable, as long as someone is fighting, it still has a chance.



  5. We’ve had a difference of opinion once or twice, but I respect your blog and appreciate your thoughts, especially as they pertain to the San Fernando Valley in general and Van Nuys in particular. Your photography is interesting, well balanced and thought provoking. I would implore you to keep at it, as well as the blogging.

    Best Regards,

    Dave Kreiselman


  6. I’ve read the last few posts about tying the feeling of worth to audience participation. I understand the sentiment of needing a break. For whatever my comments are worth, I appreciate your work and recognize the quality in each carefully structure sentence. I think blogs are great spaces to maintain but I am not so sure about the other channels of online networking.


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